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The Scoop on Poop

Did you know that your bowel movements can be impacted by how much water you drink a day, your exercise and eating habits, age, gender and health status? While there is no set number of bowel movements a person should have, ideally, you would be going “number two” two to three times a day!

With the incidence of bowel cancer in New Zealand being some of the highest in the world, it’s clear that we need to normalise the conversation on Poop. However you want to call it: Poo, “the goods”, sh*t, bowel motions, stools, poopoo, number twos, excrement, kakkaa, faeces, or prefer phrases like “dropping the kids off at the swimming pool”, “some business to do”, “drop a deuce” or “bury the landmines”, everybody poops.

The size, shape and colour of your bowel motions can tell a lot about you! Many people have no idea what their poop is telling them. Find out more, below!

Poop appearance

Type 1 – These stools are separate, hard balls or lumps. They are hard to pass, and spend too much time in the colon. This indicates severe constipation. Severe constipation can be caused by not drinking enough water (dehydration), lack of fibre in the diet, not getting enough exercise, some medications and changes to your regular routine.

Type 2 – Lumpy and sausage like, these can be stuck together. These stools indicate mild constipation and may produce haemorrhoids if you strain to get them out.

Type 3 – Like a sausage shape with cracks on the surface. These stools may cause mild straining but are on the low end of ‘acceptable’. It might be a good idea to increase your water and fibre intake.

Type 4 – Banana or sausage like, these stools can be ‘S’ shaped: soft and moist, not too hard, not too soft – they are just right! If you see stools like this in the toilet, GOLD STAR! You are an A+ pooper. You probably also eat a good amount of fibre, get regular exercise and drink at least 30ml of water per kg of weight to stay well hydrated.

Type 5 – Soft blobs with clear-cut edges, these stools can pass easily and are on the high end of ‘acceptable’. They are typical of one who experiences several bathroom trips per day and may indicate a lack of fibre in the diet. Our hormones can impact our stools, too – especially if you’re a woman and it’s around ‘that time of the month’.

Type 6 – Mushy consistency with ragged edges. This is usually indicative of mild diarrhoea. You might want to consider adding more fibre to your diet. If it is ongoing, getting a test from your GP or Naturopath to rule out any gut bugs is a good idea.

Type 7 – Liquid consistency with no solid pieces indicates severe diarrhoea. This is not good. Chronic diarrhoea can lead to dehydration, which is particularly dangerous. If you have signs of serious dehydration, seek medical help.

Quick facts

  • New Zealand has one of the highest bowel cancer rates in the world
  • Bowel cancer is the second highest cause of death in New Zealand
  • In 2011, 3030 people were diagnosed with bowel cancer and 1191 died from the disease
  • According to the Ministry of Health, Bowel cancer is a malignant growth that develops inside the bowel. It is also called colon, rectal or colorectal cancer1.

If you experience changes in bowel habits, or see blood in your stools, please advocate for yourself and see a health practitioner immediately.

References

[1] NZ Ministry of Health. (2018). Bowel cancer. Accessed: https://tinyurl.com/uxw4cwzz

By Jessica Sanders, Gutsi® Naturopath.